1. Great video! I suggest using the term “arris” for the positive burr created because it is an edge that is being created deliberately, just like the arris on a board 🙂 And because it is a sexy word which needs a wider application! 🙂

  2. Excellent! I don’t have a special burnisher, but I’ve seen someone simply use the barrel an old screw driver to accomplish the same task. Do you think that would work, or do I need to specifically search for a piece of hardened steel rod?

    1. Matt,

      the barrel of an old screw driver may work with older steel scrapers but you should really go for something harder if you use modern steel scrapers. The ticketers/burnishers are quite cheap usually.

      1. I have put a hook on a card scraper from Bacho using a screwdriver as a burnisher. The card scraper cut really well afterwards.

        Hence I do not think something harder is really needed.

        However try it out, you cannot damage anything. The worst that can happen is that the screwdriver could not do the job and the scraper has to be edge filed again.

    2. Take apart any scrap printer and there are hardened steel rods for the print head to move on. Ideal source material for burnishers. Also the tolerances on these rods are very high as you would expect.

  3. I’ve never gotten such good results from my scrapers as you show. I should try the exact procedure you use and see if it gets any better. Using a real burnisher instead of a screwdriver/chisel may be the answer to my problem.

    I am curious about this step where you burnish (at 90 degrees) and then flatten it on the bench and follow by burnishing it fully. What is the intermediate flattening doing?

    BTW, nice presentation and great new teacher!


  4. Great I needed to know the proper way to sharpen a scraper. I was able to sharpen but that looks better.
    Just a pity you did not use the file in a safe way. I was allways taught as an enginnearing apprentice many years ago that you should never use a file without a proper handle. If you had ever seen a file tang sticking into someones hand,I have not nice, I do not think you would either.
    Not being clever just passing on my own knowledge and hopefully it may save someone having a nasty accident.
    Best Regards Ted.

    1. You can safely use files without handles. The difference between safe and dangerous lies in where you hole them and the amount of pressure you are using. I’ve seen people stab themselves and take all efforts to not do it to myself, hence holding them properly to negate the risk. Don’t hold the file by the tang while exerting force and you no longer have any risk of injuring yourself on the tang. The other option is to round off the tang edges so they can’t penetrate flesh.

  5. Overall a nice demonstration. I noted that you added an additional step over what is usually seen. Typically one goes from stoning to burnishing the flat sides then turning the hook on the actual edge. You have added an edge burnishing step before the flat work. Your results are good. I’ll have to try that. Thanks for this.

  6. Welcome Josesph and thanks for the video! I’ve succesfully sharpened and used scrapers since I watched the master sharpening series but I only recently realized that the square scraper has four cutting edges along its length and not just one on either side. It was an early stage misunderstanding that made me believe that one side can only be burnished over one edge. The mushroom-mystery.

  7. I really enjoyed this, so this is not meant as a criticism, but seeing 90% of the work was done with the Stanley No 80, I thought you would have shown how to sharpen that one-first. No offence meant Joseph. 🙂

  8. As a followup to what Joseph alluded to in this outstanding video, it is important to look at the edge of your scraper. If it is new, one of the edges will be “turned” due to the stamping process of cutting the cards from a roll of metal.

    You need to file or grind past this roll over before you can successfully put a good burr on that edge.

  9. One of the very first things I was taught as an apprentice toolmaker in the early 70s was “Never use a file without a handle on the tang”. This always amused me. After all, who would be daft enough to do that?!!!

  10. I’m having trouble getting it sharp although I’ve followed all steps Joseph showed.
    Could it be due to the fact that I’m using a wrong file? It’s a cheap file from a set I bought at Aldi years ago.
    I try to make the burr with a triangular burnisher but it only seems to scrape the iron off the card scraper and not putting one one it. I used one of the three flat sides to do this.
    Both card scraper and burnisher are made by 2 cherries.

    Anyone can help?

  11. Bert, sounds like the trouble is with your file and burnisher. I single cut mill file, and a round burnisher would work much better buddy. Sorry I cant be of more help

  12. Thanks to everyone for the positive comments. I will only make very occasional appearances but I enjoyed making the video. There are more sharpening ones in the pipeline.

    @bertd, the problem could be one of a few things. 1, make sure that the file is leaving a totally smooth surface. If not try filing at a different angle or try a different file. 2, although I don’t like the triangular burnisher it should work fine. It too should be totally smooth. However, if the surface of the file is not totally smooth the burnisher won’t help.

    One thing you might try is making sure that the burnisher and the scraper edge are lubricated with oil before burnishing.

  13. I’ve always called it a hook or cutting hook. Try filing the opposite way your doing it, ie with the file in the vise and the card scraper in your hand and flat to the vise top. I always use cutting oil to float anyway the swarf and heat. You definetly get better results.

  14. Also when burnishing use a saw vise. It holds stronger then a regular vise and you don’t have to worry about compressing the hook after flipping the scraper to address the other-side.

  15. THANKS Joseph.
    Your directions are excellent!

    Today, I needed a scraper. The ONLY thing I had from what you use in the video was a single cut file. No pre-cut scraper stock, no burnisher.

    For the scraper “card.” I had the remainder of an old Disston saw that I cut down to make a frame saw. I cut a piece from the remains and went to work with the file and later Arkansas stones.

    For burnishing, I looked through all the various bits of “rod shaped things” and located an old (1880s?) marking knife, the kind with a broad spade on one end and a point on the other. It’s about as hard as many drill bits and seemed a good candidate. Taping up the cutting edge made it comfortable enough to use.

    Worked a treat! I now have a great new scraper that works very well. THANKS for the very fine instruction.

  16. Joseph,
    I have seen a scraper used in many applications by your father and other sources but I never knew how to sharpen one and of course had never owned or used one. So today I ran out and bought a inexpensive set of cabinet makers scrapers. Then headed home to look on information on how to sharpen. Finding your video was a welcome surprise. I followed your technique to the letter and got a really good bur, or hook as some call it and I am anxious now to get one of my projects far enough along to actually use it… Great job teaching this method of sharpening. I did however have one question; I used soap on my diamond plate for lubricant and I was wondering if you didn’t use any on purpose or if it really matters on the diamond stones?

  17. Hi Joseph, Like Sandy, you’ve inspired me to try a card scraper. That and I hate sand paper, so now I know that scraper skills are attainable and will reduce the need for sand paper. Great video by the way.

  18. You explain very well, Joseph. I think that you have your Father’s knack for teaching. Perhaps you could call the “burr” the “skive”, as that is exactly what it does to the wood without confusing it with a shave. Thank you for your work.

  19. The difference between this video and all the others I’ve seen…. this demo was done with an obvious fluency from someone who has done it many times. Many others are slow, almost hesitant in filing and burnishing. Well done, I can’t wait to sharpen my full set.

    1. Jeff,

      This is the real reason that I started following Paul and company. From the first youtube video, I was impressed with the utter familiarity Paul has with his tools, materials, and methods. I have seen it every day in the “trades” here in the states with my colleagues. While I would not necessarily call other popular “experts” frauds, I certainly think that they are in some sense masquerading as more than researchers. Paul is the genuine article, and it is obvious that Joseph is also. I’m glad you noticed the ring of truth too.

  20. Thank you for this video. I finally was able to sharpen both a rectangular card scraper and a curved one. Next I will tackle one with various curves. Great job. The oil on the burnisher made a huge difference as did the single cut file.

  21. To sharpen card scrapers, I have been using a kitchen knife sharpener (approx 9″ long, 3/8″ diameter rod with a handle). But while I’m certain that tool is very hard, its surface is not smooth like the burnisher shown in the video. Does anybody know whether it is out of the question to use this type of knife sharpener for burnishing a card scraper?

  22. Paul:

    Your son asked that if we knew of another name to call the refined “burr” in order to distingiuish it from the unrefined “burr” when sharpening scrapers, to send it on to him. Because you have so generously shared your wealth of knowledge, skill and experience with us, I offer the “Welsh Tine”. The tine is a blade used in farming to plow pristine fallowed ground in preparation for planting crops. And it also honors the truly fabulous Welshman, Paul Sellers. That’s my candidate from across the pond.

    Ronnie J. Berthelot

  23. It’s always good to go back and watch these instructional videos. I always find something I missed or for whatever reason omitted from the process. Thanks Joseph for the very well put together video.

  24. I’ve done a good bit of scraping, started using the technique on my last longrifle build. Curly Maple begs for a scraper (especially when shaped to be handled). But I didn’t really know what I was doing. I used broken glass, metal cut square, metal burred, thick metal, thin metal. My burrs were short-lived because I didn’t know what I was doing. Thanks for this video (and the other on the cabinet scraper-where I actually learned the “trick” first) such that “self-taught” folks like me can learn the proper ways of creating this edge and using this tool. Also I got a kick out of the repeated strokes necessary (as expect that is your least favourite part), as it’s quite similar to stropping a razor.

  25. Joseph,
    Thank you for your time and efforts in making this video and extending this fantastic collection of tutorials. I am going to give this a try soon… I picked up a set of scrapers, but hadn’t tried them out yet because I wasn’t sure how to sharpen them.

    1. Diamond Stones can be used Wet or Dry. In fact most “water” stones work just fine dry. John Juranitch talks about the myth and fact of water/oil use on hones in the book The Razor Edge Book of Sharpen.

  26. Thanks for the great technique! Now that I know what I’m doing, I’ve had great success making card scrapers from a drywall tapers knife, the spring steel cuts with tin snips, is flexible, cheap and fairly easy to get, it worked very nicely finishing maple cabinet doors. As a burnisher, a piece of drill rod works quite well (not sure if its O1 or W1).



  27. Hi Joseph
    Thank you SO much for this video, I have had a card scraper for years and love it but always struggled to sharpen it. I have watched a variety of videos over time on how to do this and they never quite worked for me.
    Yours is perfect! I ran through the steps in about ten minutes and mine now takes beautiful wafer thin shavings.
    Great work, tell your dad he better watch out, there’s a new kid on the block 🙂

  28. Great instruction, thanks! I took a woodworking class last month, bought a scraper at the school because I’d never heard/used one before. I now can get thin shavings versus ‘dust’ after a previous attempts at sharpening.

  29. I’m still learning the basics of woodworking, and would much appreciate some guidance on the subject of a card scraper’s highest and best applications. I grasp its use for spot repair of tearout after planing. I likewise grasp its use on curved surfaces and in places too small for a bench or block plane. But is it ever a better alternative to a plane in applications when a plane could still theoretically be used? Some possible examples: final smoothing after a surface has been leveled, bypassing the No. 4 bench plane altogether. Smoothing end grain without using my low-angle block plane.

    Also, should a card scraper be used as a final step to obtain even better results on a surface that has already been decently smooth-planed? When properly sharpened and used, can it be expected to leave a finish-ready surface that does not require sanding?

    With thanks and kind regards to all.

    1. Hi Stephen,

      Paul says:
      Generally, the card scraper deals with areas that cannot be planed because the grain is configured differently within the fibres. The planed surface is generally superior to scraped. So, it’s rarely ever an either or but all.

      The scraped and planed surface can be too smooth to take a fully adhered surface with many finishes which can and do then peel away. Sanding gives ‘tooth’ to the surface for better adhesion whether paint or varnish.


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